A Natural Approach To Health
Living With Eosinophilic Esophagitis
I had a question the other day about eosinophilic esophagitis.
In eosinophilic esophagitis, a type of white blood cell (eosinophil) builds up in the lining of the tube connecting your mouth to your stomach (esophagus).
This buildup, which is a reaction to foods, allergens or acid reflux, can inflame or injure your esophageal tissue.
Damaged esophageal tissue can lead to difficulty swallowing or cause food to get caught when you swallow.
Eosinophilic esophagitis is a chronic immune system disease.
It’s been identified only in the past 2 decades, but is now considered a major cause of digestive system illness.
Research is ongoing.
Signs and symptoms include:
>Chest pain often centrally located not responding to antacids
>Upper abdominal pain
>No response to GERD medication
>Backflow of undigested food
>No response to GERD medication
>Failure to thrive
Previously, researchers thought eosinophilic esophagitis symptoms were caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease, but they now know it’s a distinct condition with very different causes.
People with eosinophilic esophagitis may also have food allergies, environmental allergies, asthma, atopic dermatitis or chronic respiratory disease.
Researchers also think some people are genetically more likely than others to develop eosinophilic esophagitis.
Conditions increasing your risk of eosinophilic esophagitis include:
>Climate. Living in a cold or dry climate.
>Season. More likely diagnosed between spring and fall, probably because levels of pollen and other allergens are higher and people are outdoors more.
>Sex. More common in males than females.
>Family history. If family members have eosinophilic esophagitis, you have a greater chance of having it.
>Allergies and asthma. If you have food or other allergies, or asthma, you’re more likely to have it.
> Age. Originally thought to be a childhood disease, now known to be common in adults as well.
Eosinophilic esophagitis is considered a chronic relapsing disease, meaning most people will need ongoing treatment to control their symptoms.
>Maintain a healthy weight.
Excess pounds put pressure on your abdomen, pushing up your stomach and causing acid to back up into your esophagus.
>Avoid foods and drinks triggering heartburn.
Common triggers, like fatty or fried foods, tomato sauce, alcohol, chocolate, mint, garlic, onion, and caffeine, may make heartburn worse.
Avoid foods you know will trigger your heartburn.
>Elevate the head of your bed.
If you regularly experience heartburn at night or while trying to sleep, put gravity to work for you.
Place wood or cement blocks under the foot of your bed so the head end is raised 6-9″.
If it’s not possible to elevate your bed, insert a wedge between your mattress and box spring to elevate your body from the waist up.
Some complementary and alternative therapies may provide some relief from heartburn or reflux symptoms:
Herbal remedies sometimes used for heartburn or reflux symptoms include licorice, slippery elm, chamomile, marshmallow and others.
Techniques to calm stress and anxiety may reduce signs and symptoms of heartburn or reflux.
Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on your body.
To deal with eosinophilic esophagitis it’s beneficial to:
*Try not to chew with your mouth open, talk while chewing, or eat too fast. This causes you to swallow too much air, which can aggravate symptoms.
*Drink fluids after rather than during meals.
*Avoid late-night eating.
*Try to relax after meals.
*Avoid spicy foods.
*Keep a food diary to help identify foods causing symptoms.
*Eat small meals so your stomach doesn’t have to work as hard or as long.
*Avoid foods and beverages containing caffeine.
*If stress is a trigger, learn methods to reduce stress.
*Avoid wearing tight-fitting garments because they compress your stomach, which can cause the contents to enter your esophagus.
*Don’t exercise with a full stomach.
*Don’t lie down right after eating.
*Wait at least 2 hours after your last meal of the day before you go to bed.
*Drink 6-8 cups of purified water daily to hydrate and flush your system.
*Eat lots of life-giving, enzyme and nutrient-rich, fresh, raw fruits and veggies daily (organic whenever possible).
*Consider peppermint, anise, fennel, chamomile, and/or ginger teas.
*Try fresh pineapple or papaya because they’re rich in digestive enzymes.
*Decrease or eliminate acid-forming foods and drinks (coffee, soda pop, dairy, red meat, sugar, processed foods, white flour products).